After receiving a sexist message from a man on LinkedIn, Charlotte Proudman decided to expose his unprofessional behavior online. She soon received backlash, including terrifying death threats.
On Sept. 7, Proudman, a barrister in human rights law and feminist legal activist, tweeted a screenshot of a message she received on LinkedIn from Alexander Carter-Silk, a partner at Brown Rudnick. Instead of focusing on her career or work abilities, he pointed out her "stunning picture." "You definitely win the prize for the best Linked in picture I have ever seen," he wrote.
Having no time for such behavior on a professional networking site, Proudman called him out.
"I am on linked-in for business purposes not to be approached about my physical appearance or to be objectified by sexist men," she wrote. "The eroticisation of women’s physical appearance is a way of exercising power over women. It silences women’s professional attributes as their physical appearance becomes the subject."
In a phone interview, Proudman told The Huffington Post she’s received both positive and negative feedback since posting the tweet.
"It’s sparked a real debate about how do we call out sexism, when is it safe to do so and how can women feel comfortable in calling sexism out," she told The Huffington Post. "Because the backlash I’ve received has been phenomenal."
That backlash has included death threats, including a detailed email from someone threatening to cut off Proudman’s head. Others have told her they know where she works and lives. She has also been called a "feminazi."
Proudman has also received hundreds of supportive emails and LinkedIn messages. She told HuffPost that fathers have reached out to thank her for standing up for their daughters. She’s received support from Twitter users as well, including women who have shared their experiences with sexism.
Proudman told HuffPost that Carter-Silk has since sent her an email to apologize. He also told legal news site Roll On Friday that his comment was "unfortunately misinterpreted." She continues to receive backlash though.
"People say, 'We already have equality. We don’t need the feminist movement. We live in the existence of equality. What more do we need?' Well hardly," she said. "Once you call out sexism and then your life is threatened, it just shows the kind of patriarchal society that we do live in and we need to break that glass ceiling for sure."
Despite the nasty comments and death threats, Proudman refuses to be suppressed when it comes to speaking up about misogyny.
"It just shows the face of nature of sexism in our society," she said. "When you threaten the social order, when you threaten patriarchy, this is what you -- this is the result, threats to your life to silence you. And I won’t be silenced."
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